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EDITORIAL: Trump's proposed cuts to Great Lakes restoration would have negative impact on region, CMU

President Donald Trump's proposed 2018 budget includes cuts to multiple agencies, some of which has Michigan residents feeling uneasy.

Trump's budget, "America First: A Budget Blueprint To Make America Great Again," proposes $2.6 billion cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency. This includes the elimination of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a program that has received bipartisan praise for helping clean the Great Lakes ecosystem since being established in 2010.

If approved as is, we think Trump's budget would have devastating effects on the Great Lakes. It's repercussions would be seen throughout the state of Michigan and at Central Michigan University.

We encourage members of the CMU community to call and write to Congress or get involved in registered student organizations like Student Environmental Alliance. Let your opinion be heard. 

Most of all, the proposed cuts would directly affect CMU's Institute for Great Lakes Research, which receives funding through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. It is a national leader in research and education on the Great Lakes basin.

The Institute for Great Lakes Research has made first-of-its-kind discoveries that contribute to restoration efforts at the local level. The multi-state program, headquartered at CMU, unifies those local restoration and protection efforts of the individual states that border the Great Lakes and Canada. Without it, some states could be working in one direction while others work in the opposite direction.

Trump's plan will make clean up and protection efforts more difficult.

These proposed cuts also jeopardize jobs, future research and educational opportunities for CMU faculty and students.

The Institute for Great Lakes Research employs 24 faculty members, two post-doctoral positions and roughly 80 graduate students and technicians. The graduate students working at the institute get the hands-on training they need to move on to a permanent position.

A decrease in funding means the Institute for Great Lakes Research would have to operate on a "smaller-scale," according to founding director and CMU professor Donald Urzarski.

This could mean less graduate-student positions will be available at the institute in coming years. There will be less opportunities for environmental, biology and other science majors to meet the requirements they need to move on to permanent positions.

We encourage concerned students, faculty members and community members to object to these proposed budget cuts by calling or writing your congressman.

For those in the Mount Pleasant area, 4th Congressional District, call Rep. John Moolenar at 202-225-3561.

Students can also get active through RSOs like SEA, which holds letter writing sessions during its weekly meetings. The group meets at 7 p.m. every Tuesday in Anspach Hall, room 151.

After nearly a decade of progress, now is not the time to scale back efforts to clean the country's natural resources — our favorite places to vacation, play and admire.

If President Trump's administration truly wants to make America great, it should fight to protect funding for programs that literally clean up our land and restore our natural resources. If it wants to keep Americans safe, ignoring science and gutting environmental restoration programs isn't the way to do it.

A change in political party and president should not mean our country's dedication to keeping its natural resources clean and healthy changes. This is not a liberal or conservative issue. Protecting our environment is an issue everyone has a stake in.

Some people won't notice the lack of funding until their favorite lake is infested with zebra muscles, their favorite kayaking cove is choked out by an algae bloom or their favorite fishing hole is full of Asian Carp.

We shouldn't let it get to that point.

If students and community members object to these proposed budget cuts, there's a chance we can continue actually making America great by continuing to clean the mess we've made.